Top Chef Masters Viewing Party w/ Chef Ludo Lefebvre

Husband and I became avid fans of Top Chef after we caught a few episodes of Season 2.  When we heard that there was going to be a Top Chef Masters, we were excited.  How would some of the most renowned chefs perform, especially the ones that had previously been judges?

The first season last year was my introduction to Chef Ludo Lefebvre.  I was a little padawan foodie, learning my way around the LA food scene (still am!).  I remember watching him, wondering what the hell he was saying, and getting a kick from the bickering between him and Chef Rick Moonen.  Fast forward to the last few months…  I’ve since gotten a better handle on LA food and restaurants and, no surprise,  Chef Ludo’s name has been popping up quite a bit with the exponentially increasing popularity of his pop-up restaurant, LudoBites as well as his LFC – Ludo Fried Chicken.

Finally about to get me some Ludobites!

Wine, wine and more wine

Chef Ludo returned to the 2nd season of Top Chef Masters and when the episode aired on 4/21, he threw a viewing party at Akasha in Culver City.  Husband and I were there to watch all the fun as he and the other contestants, including Moonen, fought for a spot in the next round and redeem themselves.  But more so, we were there to eat some LFC for the first time.

Akasha is in the building that many geeks would recognize as the exterior of Flynn’s Arcade from the movie, “Tron”.  Let’s just say that the interior of Akasha is about as far from an arcade as you can get. The space isn’t huge but the open contemporary floor plan makes it feel intimate yet large at the same time. I couldn’t stop staring at the extensive wine collection behind the large bar.

Sage Lemondrop

Since we got there when the party started, the place was still fairly empty.  That was fine as it allowed us to grab a table.  A waitress came by and we ordered the cocktail of the night – Sage Lemondrop.  Chef Ludo combined organic gin, organic lemonade and sage leaves to make this.  I always thought I hated gin (ugh, gin n’ tonics are nasty!) but this was delicious.  A little tangy, not too sweet…

My plate of everything

Bacon biscuits

They were still setting up the food, served buffet style.  I spied a large basket of jalapeño corn bread, salad, deviled eggs, something in a large pot and biscuits.  Hrm, a Southern theme…  I can dig it.

When everything was set up, Husband and I dug in.  I grabbed a little of everything.  The large pot ended up containing collard greens with black-eyed peas, not my favorite.  I’m not really a bean person.  There was also mac n’ cheese, a red cabbage cole slaw and mashed potatoes.  The biscuits had bacon bits in it which sold Husband on them, and me, as well.  The couple that loves bacon together…well, gets fat together.  These were soft, fluffy; I kept having to constrain myself from going back for more.

Awesome mac n' cheese

As a mac n’ cheese lover, I’m a bit picky about it.  Chef Ludo made a fantastic classic version.  Many other versions I’ve had never had enough cheese sauce for my liking but this wasn’t the case.  And the crunchy crumbs on top is a must from a texture point of view, I think.


Since they wanted to make sure everyone got some LFC, we were limited to 3 pieces.  That’s okay, because these boneless fried balls of poultry were quite large.  A nice amount of batter that didn’t come out too saturated in oil, the herbs really gave it a lot of flavor.  Even Husband was impressed.  I think I heard the words “some of the best fried chicken ever” come out of his mouth.  I agree.  And the lemon aoli sauce gave a nice tang to it.  I can understand the hype surrounding LFC.

This bird will OWN you...

By the time the viewing started, the place was packed with Ludo fans like this guy.  It was fun watching the show with other people who were just as into it as us.  While Ludo didn’t win on the show, he certainly won me and Husband over.

Now I’m really sad I wasn’t able to get a reservation for LudoBites 4.0 at Gram & Papa’s…*sniff sniff*  Well, there will be a LudoBites 5.0, right?

The Catty Critic give LFC 5 NOMs!  More please…

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Pops up at various locations

Memorial Day Weekend – Full of Life Flatbread

Full of Life Flatbread stands on the edge of Los Alamos, a small town of 1000.  This was not a place we expected to find what my husband deemed as the best pizza he ever had.

When we arrived around 15 minutes after they opened, the place was already pretty crowded.  Apparently, the locals were quite enamored with the restaurant.  We opted for a quieter table to ourselves on the patio.  We were quickly seated and given menus.  The covers were crayon drawings from local school kids.  Heh.  As for the menu itself, it wasn’t very big but everything sounded delicious.  They offered 2 different salads and about 10 different pizzas.  All the ingredients were organic and locally grown.  Based on what ingredients they find at the market each week, FoLF also offered specials. They also had an extensive wine list (mostly local wineries) and a few local beers on tap.

One thing to note about this place is that all the pizzas are cooked in a 700° stone kiln oven in the restaurant.  (Sorry for the bad pictures…evil flash!)

Full of Life Flatbread - Market Fresh salad

I decided to start with the Market Fresh Green Salad ($5) – a medley of sweet leaf lettuces, mesclun, arugula, carrots and celery topped with toasted flax seed and a little bit of arame seaweed and a ginger, tamari and raspberry vinaigrette.  This was a decently portioned salad.  The ingredients were incredibly fresh; the vegetables were nice and crisp.  The flax seed added a nice crunch and texture to the salad.  I didn’t really notice the seaweed at all.  The dressing had a nice slight tang to it.

The pizzas here come in two sizes – 10″ and 15″.  According to them, the 10″ is plenty for one person and a 15″ is splittable between two.

Full of Life Flatbread - 10" Cheese & Herb w/ Pepperoni

The husband, being a strict carnivore, was lamenting the lack of a plain pepperoni pizza on the menu and was doubtful that he would be able to get something completely vegetable-free.   He ordered the 10″ cheese and herb pizza (Fine California Whole Milk Mozzarella, Three Sisters Raw Milk Serena, and Italian Grana Padano, Cheeses, Garlic Oil, and Fresh Garden Herbs) with pepperoni ($8 plus $2 for the add) added and the waitress assured him there were no chunks of tomatoes or other plant matter to “ruin” his pizza.

Full of Life Flatbread - 10" Central Coast Sausage

I opted for the $11.50 Central Coast Sausage (Naturally Raised Pork in a Housemade Nitrate-Free Maple and Fennel Sausage, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Onions, Mushrooms, Cheeses and Fresh Garden Herbs).

The crust was quite good – crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside.  A bit surprising accomplishment since it was pretty thin.  They put just the right amount of everything to make this a very flavorful pizza.  The fresh herbs really came through without overpowering the other ingredients.  There wasn’t too much crust or too much topping so you could taste everything.  A very well-balanced pizza!

They apparently don’t have a uniform way of cutting up the pizza and because of the crust thinness and the hefty toppings, you need both hands to prop the slice to eat it.

We did walk away with a few slices leftover since we were starting to get full but wanted to get dessert.

I think this was our favorite part…  The other half ordered the Los Alamos S’more while I opted for one of the specials, Apricot Ice Cream Sunny-side Up with a Bacon Donut (both $6/each).

Full of Life Flatbread - Apricot Ice Cream Sunny-side Up

Full of Life Flatbread - Los Alamos S'more

Overall, this was an incredibly delicious meal for not that expensive a price.  We were quite surprised at how wonderful everything was.  If it weren’t so far away, we would be eating here quite a bit.  FoLF is a definite must-try if you are ever in the area of Los Alamos, Solvang or Los Olivos.  Apparently, some people drive up from Santa Barbara (45mins- 1hour) sometimes to satisfy their craving.

They’re open only on Friday-Saturday for dinner.  On Sunday, they have a special fixed price dinner menu with wine.  The rest of the week, the staff prepares pizzas that are frozen, boxed and sent to various grocery stores.  I’ve been told they are good but not quite the same as getting it fresh at the restaurant.  I’m sure that stone oven has something to do with it.

I give Full of Life Flatbrad the full 5 NOMs.

Full of Life Flatbread
225 West Bell Street,
Los Alamos, California
(805) 344-4400